WH Tries to Clean up Biden's 'Minor Incursion' Gaffe but They Only Make It Worse

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

As we reported earlier, Joe Biden made some troubling comments during his press conference that caused a lot of consternation, both here and across the globe, when he spoke about Russia’s threats against Ukraine.

Biden said that if Russia’s Vladimir Putin made any false moves against Ukraine, he would impose sanctions. But there was a big caveat in the threat.

“He’s never seen sanctions like the ones I promised will be imposed if he moves, number one,” Biden said

“It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not do.” [….]

“But if they actually do what they’re capable of doing with the forces amassed on the border, it is going to be a disaster for Russia if they further invade Ukraine.”

Biden then responded to a follow-up question to a Reuters reporter to clarify what he meant by a “minor incursion,” and he seemed to make it even worse, suggesting if it was less than a significant invasion then they might not have such a response and insisting that there were differences among the allies, exposing divisions.

“Are you saying that a minor incursion by Russia into Ukrainian territory would not lead to the sanctions that you have threatened or are you effectively giving Putin permission to make a small incursion into the country?” Alper asked.

After initially responding that “big nations can’t bluff,” the president doubled down on his initial statement, saying: “The question is, if it’s something significantly short of a significant invasion — or not even significant, just major military forces coming across. For example, it’s one thing to determine that if they continue to use cyber efforts, well, we could respond the same way, with cyber.”

“But it’s very important that we keep everyone in NATO on the same page,” Biden went on before acknowledging that “there are differences” among the allies about what their response to a Russian invasion should be.

The Ukrainians freaked when they heard what he said, as even the CNN guy in Ukraine explained.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has issued a statement to try to clean up the mess. But the statement itself — this presumably their ‘considered’ response — has some issues.

President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies. President Biden also knows from long experience that the Russians have an extensive playbook of aggression short of military action, including cyberattacks and paramilitary tactics. And he affirmed today that those acts of Russian aggression will be met with a decisive, reciprocal, and united response.

Now, that isn’t what Biden said at all. But even the ‘clean-up’ seems to open the door for Russia. So, if Russia pulls a paramilitary move, as indeed they did in part in 2014, they wouldn’t be met with the military response? That’s what this seems to say. They just said they don’t regard “paramilitary tactics” as “military action — that’s how I read this–  and that’s more than a little troubling, given the history of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Doesn’t Biden even know what happened in 2014?

But as I said, this is why Biden’s lack of competence is so dangerous and damaging to the safety of our nation — both domestically and abroad.